Enrollment Declines Could Cost San Luis Obispo Schools Millions in State Funding

San Luis Obispo County schools could potentially lose millions in state funding once the 2022-23 school year rolls around thanks to plummeting enrollment numbers.

As the San Luis Obispo Tribune notes, this is a problem facing districts statewide. 

In California, enrollment at schools serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade dropped by a record 155,000 students this year, or about five times greater than the state’s annual rate of enrollment decline in recent years, according to the California Department of Education.

San Luis Obispo County school districts are flush with COVID-19 relief funding from the state and federal governments. But those funds are one-time and must be spent before they expire.

Schools were given a reprieve during the pandemic. The California Legislature has allowed them to calculate attendance-based funding on their 2019 enrollment numbers. Come next year, however, they’ll be diving off an “enrollment cliff,” one school official said.

The biggest enrollment decline in San Luis Obispo occurred at Lucia Mar, which lost 344 students. Atascadero Unified School District lost 226 and San Luis Coastal Unified lost 92.

A loss of 10 kids typically equals $10,000 less in state funding. It’s frightening arithmetic for the future.